Monday, December 21, 2020

The Joy of The Holiday


The excitement of children. They can’t wait to open their presents and in their anticipation they spread their enthusiasm to the entire family. Children can be our best teachers.

Making a small difference. Knowing that you gave loved ones something that will put a smile on their faces or would make their lives a little bit easier is the best reward for the thought and effort in getting them presents. It is not about the value of the gift, but the thought behind it and the effect it can have.

Time with your family. This is the time to connect with family members. It is the time to share memories and to create new ones that will be cherished for years to come.

Celebrating tradition. The traditions of the holidays are as unique as the people who celebrate them. Embrace your family’s way of celebrating, or start new traditions that the younger ones will be able to connect with in the future. These shared experiences will strengthen the family bond.

The spirit of the holidays. The infectious positive spirit is what makes this time of the year special.  Kindness and generosity become the norm. The desire to help others and share the holiday spirit demonstrate the collective goodness of  humanity.

Relaxed work environment. As the holidays approach, people start taking time off to celebrate the holidays. Others who still work get the advantage of taking it easy. The interesting thing is that life goes on without any major setbacks. So why can’t we work like that the entire time?

Time to self. You can reflect on your experiences throughout the year and think of what you would like to accomplish in the next year. But more importantly, it is time for you to just take it easy and enjoy some quiet time and pamper yourself. If you are rested and relaxed, you will enjoy the holidays more.

Lights, music and food. The decorations and lights brighten the mood. The music lifts your spirits. The festive foods and treats indulge your senses. These are blessings that we share at this time of the year. We are fortunate enough to have them and be able to enjoy them.

Hope the day will come when every person on the face of our planet will have peace, abundance and the ability to celebrate the holidays. This is the perfect time for well wishes to all.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Ways To Cleanse After A Major Holiday Indulgence


How Detoxing Works

There are a lot of misconceptions that surround detox diets. From crash diets that freak your body out and only make the problem worse to flushing without replenishing the system, fad detox diets are everywhere.

It’s important to note that detoxing doesn’t mean starving, nor does it mean you’re performing a flash sale on your digestive system. For a detox to be successful, you have to remove the bad toxins, keep the good bacteria, and fill the freed spaces with nutrients.

How to Detox After Holiday Feasts

1. Up Your Magnesium Intake

 Magnesium is great for relieving stress and helping your heart. After all of that turkey, you can feel tired and overstuffed, but magnesium, which is used to treat fatigue caused by a deficiency, can help give your body a little boost. Magnesium is also good for the heart and blood pressure.

Magnesium can easily be imbibed through foods. Try to add extra whole grains, nuts, fish, and dark green vegetables to your diet after the holidays. You can also take supplements or snack on pumpkin seeds or almonds to make sure you get your daily dose.

2. Try Fasting

Although extended fasting isn’t recommended, a short fast over a few days can help you feel lighter and re-tune your body after a day or two of gorging. A healthy fast will involve a lot of water, nutrient-rich juices every two hours, and a light dinner that is full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Fasting has been used for centuries to help people “lighten up” after a long winter and has been known to give the faster some mental clarity akin to enlightenment. Although we can’t promise a spiritual experience, we can assure you that a few days of careful fasting will help you detox after that big Thanksgiving dinner.

3. Hydrate

If you want to release and flush out the toxins in your body, you need to make sure you’re getting a sufficient amount of water each day. The recommended amount is your weight divided in half and converted to ounces. For example, a 140 pound woman would want to drink 70 ounces of water a day, which amounts to just over 2 liters. 

4. Start Taking Probiotics

A healthy gut helps regulate the rest of your body, which makes regulating your gut health over the holidays that much more important, as it can help with digestion, as well as stress and fatigue.

There are over 100 trillion microorganisms from about 400 different species living in a healthy gut, and maintaining them and their environment helps your body efficiently absorb all of the good stuff and eliminate the bad.

Though you can get a lot of probiotics from food sources, it might be worthwhile to take a probiotic supplement over the holidays to give your body that extra boost.

5. Take Deep Breaths

Have you heard of the stress hormone cortisol? It’s the chemical responsible for the fight or flight response our bodies have to danger. When we feel threatened, our brains release cortisol, which shuts down digestion and slows the metabolism to prepare for a fight and store energy sources.

When this reaction happens without an actual threat-which occurs a lot in today’s safe but stressful society-your body simply stores fat and stops burning calories. Yikes! To get your metabolism back on track after a stressful situation, take some deep breaths.

Breathing deeply activates the vagus nerve, which calms the body and brain and jumpstarts those fat-burning processes again. Just five slow, deep breaths can help to reignite your metabolism.

6. Sleep it Off

When your body is tired, it turns to a quick energy fix. This means an exhausted body will crave sugar for that boost of energy, but the kick is brief and the body is left more tired than when it began.

To keep from running to the cookie jar for a pick-me-up, get enough quality sleep each night. The holidays can be stressful, but take measures to make sure sleep isn’t getting snubbed. Give yourself enough hours, turn off all electronics, and stretch before bed. You’ll sleep better and be able to resist those tempting sugary goodies in the morning.

7. Get Alkaline

Alkaline is essentially the opposite of acidic, and your body needs to be both to be healthy. The balance between the two is called your pH level. A negative pH level means your body fluids and tissues are very acidic. A positive pH means your body is more alkaline. The healthy ideal level is a pH of 7.0 or above.

A positive pH level can help your body in multiple ways. It reduces inflammation, keeps colds at bay, helps to manage stress, and supports blood sugar levels. You can help to raise your pH by eating alkalizing foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and reducing your consumption of acidic foods like sugar and alcohol.

8. Watch What You Drink

Although you may be craving pumpkin spice lattes and peppermint mochas, be very cautious about the sugary beverages you indulge in. Liquid sugar calories are worse than those from food because they get funneled straight to your liver without going through any breakdown or filtration process.

Also, sugary drinks don’t make you feel full, even though they’re the single biggest source of sugar calories in most people’s diets. Not only do you never fill up on sugary drinks, your body craves it more and enters a vicious cycle of sugar indulgence.

Skip the sodas and fancy coffees this holiday season and switch to water, tea, and black coffee to help your body detox after a sugar-filled season.

9. Go For a Walk

The body uses the circulatory system to transfer toxins between filtration systems and eventually get them out of the body. That means the more oxygenated your body is, the easier it can get rid of toxic build up from weeks of splurging.

Try going for a walk after meals to help clear glucose from the bloodstream and help oxygenate your organs so digestion goes smoothly.

10. Counter Sugar with Fat

No, this isn’t a joke. There are healthy fats that can help you feel full and energized so you can cut back on sugar.

Reach for healthy fats, such as those found in protein-rich foods like nuts and omega-3-rich fish. Other fat-smart foods include avocados, coconut butter, and extra virgin olive oil. When you feel a sweet tooth craving coming on, try to satiate it with these alternatives and you can keep the pounds from piling on over the holidays.

11. Turn to Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt should already be a staple in your diet-it’s low calorie, full of nutrients, and contains healthy probiotics-and it should absolutely be a pillar of your detox diet.

Greek yogurt contains fructose, which can help to burn any lingering alcohol in your system. Include some nutritious additions, such as energy-boosting pistachios or antioxidant-rich blueberries to really put this snack over the top.

12. Detox Your Life

Food and drink aren’t the only toxins in our lives that may hurt our health. The first of the year is a great time to purge your life of toxins and chemicals that may be harming you.

Obviously, alcohol, refined sugar, and processed foods have got to go when you’re detoxing. But other toxins to eliminate include cigarettes, fragranced soaps and candles, and harsh cleaning chemicals. Introduce all-natural alternatives into your home so that those toxins don’t re-enter your body when your detox diet ends.

13. Sip on Dandelions

Yes, we mean those weeds that grow in your yard each spring. Dandelions are actually a powerful plant full of nutrients. Some studies have shown that dandelions contain diuretic and liver-detoxifying properties, and one study even showed that dandelion root extract reduced alcohol-related liver damage in mice.

You can easily find  dandelion teas at your local health foods store or try a dandelion supplement  to receive all of the plant’s healthful benefits.

14. Sweat it Out

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, which makes it an essential part of a comprehensive detox. Although you may not feel like heading to the gym on New Year’s Day, you’ll benefit from sweating out those toxins from the night before.

Even if you can’t get yourself to the treadmill, a session in the sauna or hot shower can help you excrete toxins and leave your body ripe for replenishment with nutrients and lots of water.


The temptation to overindulge during the holidays is strong, but a you have seen, there are endless ways to fight off cravings, detox bad decisions, and repair the body with essential nutrients. Maybe you’ll even start a new family tradition this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

How To Stay Active During The Holidays


It's hard enough to exercise the rest of the year, but add holidays to the mix and many of us find exercise becomes less of a priority as to-do lists grow longer and longer.

The last thing you want is more stress and, for many of us, trying to keep to our usual workout program does just that. At the same time, staying active in some way will give you energy, reduce stress and tension and, of course, help mitigate some of the extra calories you may be eating.

So, how do you find that balance? These quick tips will help you plan ahead, prepare yourself for any eventuality, and provide workouts to help you stay active this holiday season.

Plan Ahead

If you're traveling, planning ahead can make all the difference. Take some time to figure out what your options are so you're ready for anything. Just a few ideas:

-  Search for walking, running or-ark trails nearby 

- Look up information about the hotel you're staying at and find out if they have an exercise room

- If you're staying with family, ask if they have any fitness equipment

- If that's not an option, find any nearby gyms and ask if they let guests use their facility

- Talk to your family in advance and suggest taking a walk or doing something active together

- Ask your personal trainer to create a workout or two you can do on your own while away 

- Plan simple workouts that don't require much space or equipment. If you're traveling or have visitors, you may be able to sneak in a workout in the basement without bothering anyone.

- Participate in a holiday-themed run.  There are plenty of events like runs and walks you can participate in this time of year.  Some benefiting charities and local organization, and some just for fun. 

Try to plan your workout schedule beforehand. Even if you have to change it (which is likely when you're traveling), you've already made a commitment to exercise. It's easier to stick with it when you have it planned than to squeeze it in later.

Get Prepared

If you're not sure about your schedule or whether you'll even have time to get in a workout, plan for the worst-case scenario. That may be staying in grandma's basement with no equipment and only 10 or 15 minutes to yourself. Try these quick tips for squeezing in a workout even when you only have minutes to spare:

- Bring a workout plan with you. Plan a10 minute routine you could do right in your bedroom. For example, you could choose 10 exercises and do each for 1 minute (squats, lunges, pushups, jumping jacks) or check out the holiday workouts below for other ideas.

- Bring resistance bands. They travel well, and you can use them for quick strength exercises whenever you catch a few minutes.

- If you have a laptop, bring along a workout DVD or try streaming workouts online,  such as those offered by FitnessOnDemand.

- If guests are staying with you, move your equipment (weights or bands) into your bedroom so you can sneak in some exercise at night or in the morning.

- Wear running or walking shoes as much as you can. You may find a 20-minute window when people are napping or before dinner for a quick walk or run.

You may even want to invite some family members for a walk. Sometimes there are others who'd love to work out, but they're just waiting for someone else to step up first.

Use Every Opportunity

Planning and preparing are nice, but even the best-laid plans get derailed, especially during the holidays. If you find there's just no way to get in a workout, get creative and find ways to move your body any way you can: 

- Walk as much as possible. Take extra laps at the mall, use the stairs, volunteer to walk the dog.

- If you're hanging out with kids, set up a game of football, tag, or hide and seek.

- Offer to help with the housework, shoveling snow, or raking leaves.

- If everybody's sitting around watching football, get on the floor for some sit-ups or pushups. If that's too weird, try isometric exercises — squeeze and hold the abs, the glutes, or even press the hands together to engage the chest.

- If you don't have equipment, pick up some full water bottles or soup cans for quick lateral raises or overhead presses. Something is always better than nothing.

The most important thing is to be realistic and go easy on yourself. You aren't always in charge of your schedule during the holidays so you can only do your best. Remind yourself that you can get back to your routine when you're back home.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Give Yourself The Gift of Health

As the holiday season approaches it is so easy to get in a rut of automatic “giving.” We make shopping lists, brainstorm the perfect gifts, and focus on “giving” gifts. We even feel the stress during the holidays of navigating our friends’ and families’ expectations for where we should be “giving” our time during the holiday season.

This party, that party, this food drive, that charity auction, etc. All good things.

In the flurry of all the stress to “give” during the holidays, we tend to forget the life-changing gift of  giving ourselves the gift of health and self care we each deserve, however.

When we say “self care” it can easily get confused with selfishness or narcissism, but this is a misapplication of the term. I’m talking about doing what you need to do in order to stay healthy, energetic, and present in your life – during the stress of the holidays and beyond.

Look, I know how easy it is to slip into self-judgement if you have to say “No” to an amazing event or “No” to someone’s offer of a food that doesn’t fit with your health goals. We all do it. We become martyrs.

But you cannot give from an empty vessel. You must fill your vessel up with health, joy, respect, and happiness, so much so that is spills over to others. Give yourself the opportunity to say “Yes,” to taking the critical time needed to stay healthy and take care of yourself. When that happens, it cannot help but spill out! This kind of giving is so infectious and so effective — but it can’t happen until you give yourself the gifts of health, joy, respect, and happiness first.

Schedule time to take a breath during the holiday season. Give yourself the time to take a walk, enjoy a yoga class, or even do some breathing exercises. Acknowledge when you’re tired and need more rest. And fuel yourself with plenty of fresh, whole organic foods that will nourish your body, give you energy, and support your immune system.

The hustle and bustle and all the potential stress during the holiday season can be energizing if you pace yourself, stick with healthy habits that build you up, and give yourself time to rest and recharge at several points during the season.

Don’t wait until the first of the year to make a resolution that you know you will break! Say “yes” to making healthy choices and taking one small step at a time now — without the pressure of perfection that a resolution usually carries and START NOW.

This holiday season, ask yourself this question: What have you been unwilling to give yourself for your health during previous holiday seasons?

Sit with that. Be honest. Write down what you consider your most important option. And commit to living out this holiday season differently. Health starts with each small choice you make.

Start choosing to give yourself the gift of health and happiness. And see it as a way to actually give more to the people you love. Each small choice will give you so much momentum, and so much love to give that it cannot help but change your life — and the lives of others. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Health Benefits of Thanksgiving Foods



Packed with hunger-fighting and muscle-building protein -- even the dark meat is good for you! Turkey a great centerpiece for a healthy Thanksgiving table, as long as you pass on the fatty skin.

Sweet Potatoes 

Low in calories, yet bursting with natural sweetness and powerful antioxidants like lycopene. And there are so many ways to eat sweet potatoes: baked, stuffed, mashed, roasted or whipped into sweet potato pie.


Fresh or dried, cranberries are packed with fiber, cell-protecting anthocyanin and vitamin C. Add some to stuffing, grain salads, desserts or good old cranberry sauce.

Green Beans

These tasty beans give you vitamins C, A and K, plus iron and fiber – all for about 35 calories per cup.


This holiday classic can make its way to your meal in a variety of fashions – straight up kernels, casserole and cornbread just to name a few. It has high fiber content which helps in digestion.  Corn is also high in B vitamins. 


Keep the doctor away with vitamins A and C and the inflammation-fighting phytochemical called quercetin. Keep the peels on when you make pies, tarts and applesauce there are lots of nutrients in there.


Add both the flesh and seeds to your holiday dishes to get vitamins, minerals, omega-3s and antioxidants like lutein and beta carotene. Cooked pumpkin adds lots of silky creamy texture without fat and cholesterol.


It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without this robust herb. A little goes a long way, giving big flavor for a smidge of calories. This tasty spice is high in antioxidants and helps support memory and brain health. 


Cinnamon is a powerful spice – it gives savory dishes warmth and depth and brings out the flavor of fall favorites like apples, pears and pumpkin. You’ll also get a dose of fiber, calcium and iron. Regular consumption of this toasty spice may also help keep blood sugar and cholesterol in check.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Positive Benefits of Spending Time With Family During The Holidays



Good relationships are the key to a longer life. In a Harvard study on some 309,000 people, it was found that the lack of strong familial or friend ties increase the risk of premature death by 50%—that's comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day!


A large Swedish study conducted on people over the ages of 75 showed that those with the strongest, healthiest family ties had the lowest risk for dementia.


Sometimes we don't realize how good things used to be until we're back in our childhood bedroom, slightly too big for our bed and definitely too old for the posters plastered on the wall. But that sentimental longing is a good reminder not to take things in life (family included) for granted, and to celebrate the person you've grown up to be.


Holiday celebrations with your family aren't just about the adult activities, but spending and enjoying quality time with children, whether young nieces and nephews or your friends' little ones. Their excitement and joy is infectious, and family holidays are the perfect time to shed your reservations and indulge in play time, completely guilt-free.


Stress can wreak havoc on your body and your brain. Spending quality time and venting to trusted family during the holidays can help. A study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that those who took the time and had people to vent to had a lower pulse and blood pressure. A separate study conducted at Carnegie Mellon found that people who spent time with their families found healthier ways to cope with stress.


Tired of takeout? Being home for the holidays can solve that. There's nothing like your mom's casserole or your aunt's sweet potato pie to make you feel cozy and grateful.


Let's face it, no matter how old we get, going home for the holidays makes us feel young again. And while that's not always a good thing, we can't deny the positive benefit of having your parents around. Sleeping in, getting breakfast made for you, not having to do many chores–it's the perfect mini break from life as a grown-up.


Sharing in long-held traditions is one of the most important aspects of the holidays. It's your family rituals that help tie you together, and there are few things better than getting to honor them, side by side. Even better? Now that you're older, you'll get to create new ones with your family that will last a lifetime.


Home is where the heart is, right? Linking with your family for the holidays is also a perfect time to experience new places and activities as a unit. You can introduce familiar people to unfamiliar settings, allowing everyone to expand their comfort zone, learn new things about each other, and become closer as a result.


No one knows you better than your family, and getting a chance to reminisce about old times and laugh at silly jokes you all have is one of the big perks. Plus, laughter has real health benefits; it's known to boost the immune system, releases stress, and even burns calories!


These days, we're a little too connected to the world at times. Spending the day with family, taking those moment's to catch up, laugh, eat, and be merry means less time spent liking, commenting or posting... and that's a good thing. Giving your brain (and fingers) a much-needed phone break results in more time with the people you love, and more refreshed perspective once it's time to plug back in.


Psychological help goes beyond the here and now. The emotional support provided by your family also gives you a greater sense of well-being. One study found that people who had supportive family and friends reported having a stronger sense of purpose, an excitement for the future, and saw a greater meaning to life.


Honestly, the most important thing about spending time with family during the holidays is...spending time. Through the good, bad, annoying and awe-inducing moments, family is an integral part of our lives, and joining together for the holidays can remind you of all the things you love about them. And really, isn't that what it's all about?

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Why Carbs Are So Important For Your Workout

You've had a good night's sleep. You're well hydrated. You've built a killer Spotify playlist. Still, you have no energy. What gives?

While it's all-too-easy to fear 'em (especially in the age of paleo and keto), healthy carbs-or specifically a lack of 'em-could be the reason you're totally gassed. Carbs should make up the majority of your diet, especially if you're active.  In fact, healthy carbs are important and crucial for a healthy, active lifestyle.

Of course, it's easy to have a lot of questions when it comes to the macronutrient (like what exactly counts as a healthy carb? or how should I be fueling my workout with carbs?). So what do you really need to know? Consider this your ultimate guide to carbs-the healthy, the not so healthy, and how they can help you feel healthier, stat.

What are carbohydrates anyway?

In addition to protein and fat, carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients in food, and you need them for energy and fuel. When you exercise, you need something to start your engine and keep it going, and that something often comes in the form of healthy carbs. They're our primary energy source during exercise, and we can't get to the same level of intensity if we're carb depleted.

Not all carbs are created equal, however. Naturally occurring sugars like fructose in fruit and lactose in dairy, sugars that are added to foods, and refined grains such as white rice are broken down quickly by your body. That means they provide almost-instant energy, but it doesn't quite last. And unless they're bundled with other nutrients, like the fiber in an apple or the protein in yogurt? They're basically "empty" calories. Other carbs, such as those found in whole grains, vegetables, and legumes take longer to digest, so you get a steadier supply of energy.

And while some carbs (think: cupcakes) are sky-high in calories, that's not always the case. Many foods that contain carbs, such as fruits and vegetables, are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. Other healthy carbs fall somewhere in between. Whole grains, for example, contain a lot of nutrients and calories, while low-fat dairy has a medium amount of both.

In essence, you want to always cut down on added sugar and refined grains and consider all other healthy carbs fair game.

What happens when I eat carbs?

When you eat carbohydrates, they get broken down into sugars (glucose, fructose, and galactose) and are either quickly used for energy or are stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles for use later. When you eat any type of carb, your body also releases insulin to help you regulate an increase in blood sugar.

How fast they get broken down depends on the type of carb you eat. Simple carbs quickly get broken down into your bloodstream and give you a supercharge of energy, but leave you at a low later on. Classic examples: fruit juice, white bread, white rice, cereals with little fiber, bagels, and candy. Eating these can become a vicious cycle too, because your body gets a rush and then crashes, leaving you craving a fix.

Complex carbs-your fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (with less sugar and more fiber)-are broken down at a slower rate, on the other hand, and can help keep your cholesterol levels and weight under control. 

Should I eat healthy carbs before and after working out?

You've likely heard the term "carbo-loading"-and there's something to it: Most of the time, you want to fuel your body with whole-grain, high-fiber (3g or more) complex, healthy carbs. The idea is to provide your body with easily digestible energy far enough in advance that your workout isn't interrupted by the digestion process, about 45 min to an hour prior. You want to get your energy levels up so you have some ready fuel for your body to burn. That's when a serving of simple carbs (an English muffin with jelly, a bowl of cereal) comes in handy. During exercise, you want your body to focus on working your muscles, not breaking down foods with lots of fiber. So contrary to what you want to do the rest of the time, at this point you should feed your body simple sugars that are quickly absorbed and will give you bursts of energy.

If you have an endurance event such as a marathon or triathlon coming up, don't pig out on pasta the night before, though, or you might feel weighed down for the main event.  A better strategy? "You want to increase your carbohydrate intake by up to 100 grams a day-about an extra three servings-starting three days before the big event."

As for post-workout, the repair and re-growth of tissue rely not just on protein but also on replacing lost glycogen (broken-down carbohydrates) and fluids. Restore your body's energy with complex carbs-meaning fruit, grains, or vegetables paired with protein for muscle repair and growth. Good choices: yogurt and fruit, an apple and peanut butter, or a glass of skim chocolate milk. 

So how many carbs do I need?

That's going to depend on a lot of different factors such as age, how much you work out, what your lifestyle is like, and what your dietary restrictions are. We recommends getting 45 to 65 percent of your calories from carbs, depending on how much cardio you do (aerobic activity requires more carbs than Pilates, for example). You need 130 grams a day just for your brain to function, active women should aim for between 200 and 300 grams per day, active men should aim between 225 and 325 grams per day. 

And you never want to cut carbs-or any whole food group or macronutrient-out entirely. You'll likely miss out on important nutrients.  Many of the vitamins and minerals we need come from fruits and vegetables, so cutting these out can lead to deficiencies.

Even more: High-fiber carbs can help increase amounts of the feel-good hormone serotonin, which can improve mood, she says. Add healthy fats and protein and they'll keep your blood sugar steady, to boot.

And while no carb is "off limits" (hey, we all need cookies from time to time, right?), some are a healthier pick than others. To help steer your decisions, know that registered dietitians traditionally often suggest aiming for six servings of starches and whole grains, three to five servings of vegetables, three to four servings of fruits, two to three servings of dairy, no more than two servings of refined grains, and no more than one serving of "treats" a day.

Want something more specific? Use this sample menu as a guide. It adds up to nearly 215 grams of carbs.

- Breakfast (43g carbs): Whole-wheat English muffin with 1 slice Swiss cheese and 1 egg scrambled with 1 cup spinach + 1/2 grapefruit

- Lunch (72g carbs): Turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cucumber + 6 ounces low-fat yogurt with 1/2 small peach, diced

- Snack (15g carbs): Apple + low-fat string cheese

- Dinner (51g carbs): 2 fish tacos made with corn tortillas, shredded cabbage and mango salsa + small side black beans

- Dessert (32g carbs): 1/2 cup light ice cream with 1/2 cup sliced strawberries


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Meet Jane Hart ~ Our Newest Yoga Instructor


From Jane Hart, our newest yoga instructor:

When I first started taking YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) class, my amazing teacher, Brian, asked us to write down two things: 1. What is your definition of yoga and 2. What is your intention for this training? For me, it is breathing purposefully to quiet my mind, loving the person I was created to be, and being strong from the inside out. My hope was to love myself more, learn how to let things go, and to teach others how to do the same. What I originally thought about yoga, over the fifteen years of practicing on and off, was that I did not like it at all! I tried different classes and several instructors. But I never had a teacher. You may ask ‘What is the difference’? An instructor calls out asanas (poses), moves quickly with no explanation, and seems to have very little knowledge of the real meaning of yoga. Brian taught me to cue my students into every asana and when we attained the position, he would tell us the name of the pose just in case we wanted to know it. He never left anyone behind. He would walk around the room making adjustments because he did not want us to injure ourselves. However, the most important thing he taught me was how to breathe. It seemed silly. I thought to myself ‘we are already breathing’. But instead he taught me how to get away from the noise in my head, how to focus on myself in a loving way, and join my mind, body, and spirit. Below is the ‘why’ I learned to breathe deeply.


Benefits of deep breathing – The sympathetic nervous system accelerates the heart rate, constricts blood vessels, and raises blood pressure when the body is challenged or stressed. The breath becomes short and rapid and one’s anxiety will increase. This is referred to as fight, flight, or freeze reaction.

The parasympathetic nervous system is the part of the involuntary nervous system that serves to slow the heart rate, increase intestinal and glandular activity, and relaxes and soothes all muscles – REST & DIGEST.

Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system commonly referred to as rest, digest, and relaxation.  Some of the benefits from deep controlled breathing are:

~Calms and quiets the mind (improves decision making skills)

~Lowers heart rate 

~Reduces and helps one manage anxiety

~Oxygenates the blood vessels (oxygen deprivation creates anxiety and brain fog)

~Improves the ability to concentrate and focus the mind on one point (stay on task)

~Increases body awareness (body language, nervous habits)

~Improves confidence (increased ability to convey or emphasize a point without running out of breath)

~Relaxes muscles while stretching

~A way to self soothe

~Creates a connection with the present moment

~Can help one remain calm while going through a challenging situation

My concentration is in Vinyasa flow and Ujjayi breathing technique, which I will describe the breathing below. As you may have read in my previous post, I was confused about the real meaning of yoga until I began practicing with my fabulous teacher, Brian. I will share with you below what he taught us about Ujjayi breathing and the Goal of Yoga.

The goal of yoga . . . no, it’s not a handstand. The yoga pose is not the goal. Becoming flexible or standing on your hands is not the goal.

The goal is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of the mind and the noise it creates. To make peace with who you are. The goal is to love . . . well, you. Shift your focus and your heart will grow. Namaste, Brian.


I teach students how to breathe at the beginning of each class. Even if you already know this technique it helps to center you for the rest of our practice together. The breath is the main part while asanas (poses) are simply the movements we add with our bodies. Pranayama is the part of yoga that includes different systems of breathing. Prana translates as “life force”. It can also be described as our spirit and soul. The breathing technique I teach in my classes is called Ujjayi Pranayama. It is controlling the breath to create a sound like the waves of the ocean as you inhale and exhale. This is done by shaping the back of the throat to sound like you are fogging up your glasses when you exhale, and you continue to inhale the same way. Ujjayi is a diaphragmatic breath, which first fills the lower stomach, then rises to the lower rib cage, and finally moves into the upper chest and throat. The length and speed of the breath is controlled by the diaphragm, the strengthening is part of the purpose of Ujjayi. The inhalations and exhalations are equal in duration and are controlled in a manner that causes no distress to the student. I would love for you to come to one of my classes, not only to teach you this technique but also how to connect your mind, body, and spirit through Hatha yoga. Peace & Love.